In two well-attended sessions at GCMA 2021 Conference, industry expert Kevin Fish spelled out the impact and legacy of lockdown... What the hell happened? It’s an introduction that gets your attention and the room is rapt as Kevin Fish contextualises the maelstrom we’ve all been through over the last 20 or so months. The Covid journey in golf has certainly been extraordinary – from fear of annihilation to a participation boom – but what has it actually meant for the sport? What impact has it had, and continues to leave as 2022 looms? Kevin, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the golf industry, and whose company Contemporary Club Leadership regularly surveyed around 200 UK clubs, dished out the numbers and spelled out the trends in two very well-attended breakout sessions at GCMA Conference. What he revealed will be an eye opener to many of you in your offices and for your boards as you look to take stock of an extraordinary time... The industry was on a cliff edge before the pandemic struck We were reminded that going in to the COVID crisis the CCL 2019 Barometer Report revealed that the typical UK golf club was carrying cash reserves that were the equivalent of just four months regular overheads. “That’s not a lot of cash, particularly when clubs haemorrhage money during the cold winter months,” Kevin said. There may not be a single measure of tracking a club’s health, but Kevin’s analysis of over 140 golf accounts points to the Capital Funds Available to a club, and found that on average, they had around £39,000 at the end of the year. “That’s not a lot of money to play with, when you then have to pay off debt commitments, and cover the depreciation of your assets,” he told Conference. “Our analysis found that the typical UK club is actually going backwards and watching the assets of the club diminish on their watch. Folks, these facts were telling us that we were already looking over the cliff edge in 2019 and this looked like it was going to put a few of you under.” When lockdown struck, members started behaving like customers – but committees stepped up to the plate “They were saying, ‘well, if I can’t play I want my money back,” Kevin revealed of members who were “acting like customers” when they weren’t able to get on their courses. While Kevin said that 49% of clubs resisted the urge to give a financial gesture to members, that meant more than half did – something, he believed, that begged a lot of questions given our clubs’ apparent reliance on the government’s furlough scheme. But the vast majority of clubs CCL surveyed said boards recognised the challenge in front of them and rose to it. The time for saving cats in trees was over, and Boards had to step up and really put some fires out. “Around this time, clubs started to embrace the key difference in our industry,...
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